Friday, June 19, 2015

Year 5: Week 39 – The Week After

Most teachers have an extra week that they work at school after the students have left. This time of the year is an interesting flurry of activity. First off, there are grades to get done. At the same time we have meetings to reflect on the year, wrap-up old projects and do some early planning for the following school year.

It’s a challenging time because with the deadline of our grades, it’s difficult to sit in meetings and think ahead to next year. However we need to make this happen because we have so little time in the year to have many important conversations. Also, there is a certain amount of planning that teachers must do before the school year is over so that the following year can begin smoothly.

There’s the cleaning of classrooms, which is an ever-lasting battle. For some reason classrooms have a way of collecting stuff and if you aren’t careful, you can get buried in piles of papers, books, and unused supplies. As well as being an important step to keeping organized, the cleaning of classrooms also is a ritualistic activity that helps us put the year in perspective as we sift through student work, and materials.

For some of us, like myself, all of these meetings, grade writing, cleaning and reflecting sparks tons of ideas for the following school year. I can’t help making lists of ideas, while trying to slow my brain down and stay focused.

While doing all of these activities, I also ran a one-week summer camp at my school for the second year. This really was mental gymnastics switching from my role as a teacher to running camp activities. The camp went great and the kids were awesome but it was a hard week to stay focused. A big part of this had to do with the lack of students in the school.

Every job has the factor that keeps you motivated and focused and for me it’s the students. Sometimes I feel like I can get more done during the school year in twenty minutes that are interrupted by students than an hour of time in the last week of the school with the hallways silent. Yes, the kids are distracting, but they are a constant reminder of the purpose and timeliness of tasks.

This week after is also a time for final goodbyes to colleagues that are leaving. As the grades get completed and the meetings wrap-up, it’s also a time to take an extra couple minutes to have that conversation with a fellow faculty member that you always meant to have but never have the time of mind-space to make happen.

As I was cleaning off my white board, using the clearing spray to get off all the streaks and smudges, I felt this quiet feeling of accomplishment. First off, I had never had the time to get this white board so white, and second, I felt like I finally arrived at the end of the school year.

Not everything went perfect this year, but a lot of things went great. There were struggles, frustrations and disappointments, but looking back on those moments, I don’t really mind those times because we always came out of those situations in a better place than we started. The question I asked myself as I was cleaning as “Am I excited to come back next year? Do I want to do it all again?” I smiled knowing that without a doubt the answer was yes.  With that affirmation, I knew that all was right with who I was: a father, a husband, a son, a brother, a friend and a teacher.

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